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U.S. Soccer announces women's Olympic roster, leaving out longtime star Alex Morgan

Alex Morgan celebrates during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup semifinal.
Maja Hitij
/
Getty Images
Alex Morgan celebrates during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup semifinal.

Soccer star Alex Morgan, the longtime cornerstone of the U.S. women's national team, will not participate in this summer's Olympic Games in Paris.

The roster announcement Wednesday by U.S. Soccer marks the first time since 2008 that Morgan has missed an Olympic Games. It is likely to be the end of her Olympic career.

Morgan, who will turn 35 in July, appeared on three U.S. Olympic teams, including the 2012 gold medal squad. She also helped lead the U.S. in four World Cups, twice winning that tournament. In more than 220 appearances for the U.S. women's national team, Morgan scored 123 goals, the fifth most in team history, along with 53 assists.

"Today, I'm disappointed about not having the opportunity to represent our country on the Olympic stage," Morgan wrote in a statement on the social media site X. "In less than a month, I look forward to supporting this team and cheering them on alongside the rest of our country."

In a press conference Wednesday, national team coach Emma Hayes praised Morgan as "an amazing player and human" and said that winnowing the roster to 18 players was "not easy."

"It was a tough decision, of course, especially considering Alex's history and record with this team. But I felt that I wanted to go in another direction and selected other players," Hayes said.

The U.S. women's national team is looking to turn a new page after disappointing results in international tournaments in recent years.

In the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, the team settled for bronze after a disappointing defeat to Canada in the semifinals. Then, last year, the team suffered by far its earliest elimination ever in a World Cup when it lost in a penalty shootout to Sweden in the Round of 16.

The U.S. is now fifth in FIFA's international rankings, its lowest spot ever since FIFA began ranking women's teams more than two decades ago.

The new 18-player roster has an average age of 26.8, the fourth-youngest roster the U.S. has ever sent to the Olympics, according to U.S. Soccer.

The roster includes forwards Crystal Dunn, Trinity Rodman, Jaedyn Shaw, Sophia Smith and Mallory Swanson; midfielders Korbin Albert, Sam Coffey, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle and Catarina Macario; defenders Tierna Davidson, Emily Fox, Naomi Girma, Casey Krueger, Jenna Nighswonger and Emily Sonnett; and goaltenders Casey Murphy and Alyssa Naeher. The alternates are Lynn Williams, Croix Bethune, Hal Hershfelt and Jane Campbell.

Before the Olympics, the team will play two international friendlies next month against Mexico and Costa Rica. Its Olympic campaign is scheduled to begin July 25 with a match against Zambia.

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Becky Sullivan has reported and produced for NPR since 2011 with a focus on hard news and breaking stories. She has been on the ground to cover natural disasters, disease outbreaks, elections and protests, delivering stories to both broadcast and digital platforms.